The Disney+ original series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series tells the story of a brand-new group of East High Wildcats as they work their way toward the opening night of their school’s first-ever production of High School Musical. But of course, a group of new students means a group of new teachers. Enter Mark St. Cyr, who plays Mr. Mazzara.
I got the chance to talk to Mark about how he got started in acting originally, whether or not he was a fan of the original High School Musical films, what we can expect from Mr. Mazzara in future episodes and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally.
When I was 15, I was in a hospital post-surgery watching soap operas in bed. I started mimicking the actors on screen, doing their facial expressions and tonality. And for whatever reason I thought – “I think I can be an actor” and auditioned for my local arts academy.
Was there a specific person or experience that you would credit with helping you decide that acting is what you wanted to do for a living?
I always had a desire to perform in some manner. When I was in middle school, I used to watch Usher music videos and copy the dance moves and think, “I want to be like Usher,” but I didn’t have an exact path laid out for me. My sister was always watching and listening to musicals in her room growing up, and she knew she wanted to be an actress. I think hearing her perform the entirety of The Sound of Music through the walls of our childhood rooms for weeks on end probably rubbed off on me.
Let’s talk about High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS). What did you first think about the show when you read the script? What was your audition process like?
When I read the first couple of scenes for Mr. Mazzara, I thought the script was really smart, witty, and deceptively heartfelt. Mr. Mazzara is not really the hub of heartfelt scenes for the beginning of the show, but I could tell that they were giving him depth throughout the season.
The audition process was a self-tape I sent in that I recorded with a friend. I heard back like three weeks later that they were interested in doing a screen test. Then, I got to the test and did a bunch of fun scenes opposite Kate Reinders, who already had the role of Miss Jenn, and the rest was history.
Were you a fan of High School Musical before you got the role?
I had seen the first movie when it came out, and while I had started out skeptical, I was quickly won over by the stellar performances and chemistry from the cast.
Seeing that the franchise is so iconic, did you feel a lot of pressure heading into filming or not as much because it’s not a straight remake of the movie?
There was some pressure in that we were all going to be making something that had never been made before. There was this awareness that it was going to be watched by a ton of people who fell in love with the originals, and we wanted to have something great for them when they tuned in to watch. But there was never any pressure to compete or outdo the originals, because our show is designed very differently from those movies. We’re able to pay homage and poke fun at the originals a bit while being able to stay authentic to our own unique identity as a show.
I know a lot of actors bring a bit of themselves to the characters they play, but in what ways do you think you’re similar to Mr. Mazzara and in what ways do you think you’re different from Mr. Mazzara?
If you had asked me if I were similar to Mr. Mazzara a year ago, I would’ve said “not at all,” but I’m learning more and more every day how similar I am to Mr. Mazzara. We both tend to be driven by logic over feelings. We’re both very left brained. We both have excellent mustaches.
As far as differences, I’m a lot more able to tap into my heart-centered side than Mr. Mazzara allows himself to show outwardly.
From what we’ve seen in the first two episodes, Mr. Mazzara is not a fan of the musical or anything Miss Jenn is doing with these kids. Will we see him start to come around as the series goes on?
You know, I think the bigger question is, will we see Miss Jenn and any students come around to Mr. Mazzara’s point of view as the series goes on?
Which upcoming episode are you most excited for fans to see and why?
Episode 1×07 probably has some of my favorite scenes. There are some scenes between Mazzara and Miss Jenn that I really can’t wait to see how they’ve turned out.
Also, our finale episodes where the musical is being performed are going to be out of this world. And Mr. Mazzara has a *very* special moment in that last one that I can’t wait to see how people react to.
Why should people who might be reluctant to watch HSMTMTS at first ultimately give the show a chance?
I notice anyone who is reluctant about the show starts to turn their opinion around once they watch the trailer. Our show is genuinely funny, smart, and emotionally engaging from beginning to end. And it just gets better as we go along.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Oh man. I nerd about so much. I just bought a GH5 camera for indie filmmaking, and I can just watch videos about camera gear forever. I’m also really really excited for The Mandalorian. I’ve been hoping for a Star Wars story to hit me in the same way that “Empire Strikes Back” does.